Law is a specific form of social regulation distinct from religion, ethics, and even politics, and endowed with a strong and autonomous rationality. Its invention, a crucial aspect of Western history, took place in ancient Rome. Aldo Schiavone, a world-renowned classicist, reconstructs this development with clear-eyed passion, following its course over the centuries, setting out from the earliest origins and moving up to the threshold of Late Antiquity.
The invention of Western law occurred against the backdrop of the Roman Empire's gradual consolidation--an age of unprecedented accumulation of power which transformed an archaic predisposition to ritual into an unrivaled technology for the control of human dealings. Schiavone offers us a closely reasoned interpretation that returns us to the primal origins of Western legal machinery and the discourse that was constructed around it--formalism, the pretense of neutrality, the relationship with political power. This is a landmark work of scholarship whose influence will be felt by classicists, historians, and legal scholars for decades.
About the Author
Aldo Schiavone is the author of Spartacus and was a professor of Roman law at the Istituto Italiano di Scienze Umane, which he founded. A member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, he lives in Rome.
Jeremy Carden lived in Italy from 1987 to 2014. Now based in the UK, he works as a freelance translator.
Antony Shugaar's recent translations include A Pimp's Notes by Giorgio Faletti, The Nun by Simonetta Agnello Hornby, Bandit Love by Massimo Carlotto, and Sandokan by Nanni Balestrini, for which he received an NEA translation fellowship. He lives with his family in Charlottesville, Virginia.
Everyone recognizes that during the early Roman Empire law emerged as a professionalized and vital part of statecraft, but few understand the wrenching intellectual controversy that accompanied the transformation. Aldo Schiavone's terrific book brings this historic debate into dazzling focus.--Bruce Frier, University Michigan
The wide sweep and deeply humanistic approach of The Invention of Law in the West--with its emphasis on the primary sources and concise critical synthesis of much previous scholarship--make this ambitious volume perhaps the best attempt yet by any scholar to animate the venerable yet highly complex, technically demanding and intellectually isolated field of Roman law for a wider readership...It indisputably marks a new and welcome opening in its field.-- (12/21/2012)